UN to warn donor parley of PA economic collapse, annexation violence

Palestinian family outside their home in village of Um al-Kheir in occupied West Bank, near Israeli settlement of Carmel, background right (AFP)

Tovah Lazaroff

The Jerusalem Post  /  May 31, 2020

The AHLC meets twice a year in the fall and spring. This year’s spring meeting was delayed due to the pandemic.

The Palestinian Authority faces economic collapse due to COVID-19 and the West Bank faces potential violence caused by Israeli annexation attempts, the UN plans to say during a virtual donor parley on Monday.

“Any move by Israel to annex parts of the occupied West Bank or any Palestinian withdrawal from bilateral agreements would dramatically shift local dynamics and most likely trigger conflict and instability in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip,” the office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) said Sunday in a statement to the media.

The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), which helps oversee the allocation of donor funding to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, will hold the virtual conference on Monday.

The 15-member committee, chaired by Norway, includes representation by Israel, the Palestinians and the Quartet, composed of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia.

The AHLC meets twice a year in the fall and spring. This year’s spring meeting was delayed due to the pandemic.

UNSCO said the combination of COVID-19 and Israeli annexation plans had created a particularly perilous situation.

“An Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank would also call into the question the purpose of the AHLC and the engagement of its members in support of Palestinian institution building,” UNESCO said in a report it prepared for the conference.

It called on the on the international community “to do what it can to help the Palestinian economy survive the challenge of the COVID-19 crisis… Different and bolder action is required to avert economic collapse; all actors – Israel, the Palestinian government,

international donors, the private sector and others – must mobilize and deploy vast resources to address the COVID-19 emergency.”

In a report prepared for the AHLC, the World Bank warned that the Palestinian economy, which registered only 1% growth in 2019, could contract by as much as 7.6%-11% in 2020.

Last year, 14% of Palestinians in the West Bank and 54% in the Gaza Strip lived below the poverty line, the report said. Those numbers could rise to 30% in the West Bank and 64% in Gaza, it said.

The World Bank predicted a potential $1.5 billion deficit for the Palestinian Authority in 2020. It noted in particular the drop in donor funding, which it said composed only 4% of the PA’s GDP for the second year in a row, down from 27% in 2008.